There’s something surreal about discussing Donald Trump’s policy positions. It’s like discussing my cat’s nutritional and exercise choices — they both just do what they do because of what they are. Trump’s plan for everything is that all things will be better because Trump will be doing them. His so-called “positions” are just the talking points his staff has put together. I think reporters could get some mileage asking him questions about the details and seeing how much he remembers.
Trump’s only position paper so far is on immigration, and I’d like to address just a few of the points he makes.
When politicians talk about “immigration reform” they mean: amnesty, cheap labor and open borders.
Well, all three of those things sound pretty good to me. Keeping residents on the run from the immigration police all their lives is a recipe for a rebellious underclass, I certainly don’t want to have to buy all my goods and services from overpriced labor, and with open borders it won’t cost as much to fight illegal immigration because most of it will be legal.
Here are the three core principles of real immigration reform:
1. A nation without borders is not a nation. There must be a wall across the southern border.
If a nations must have borders and borders must have walls… So, we’re still not a nation yet then, are we?
(Remaining two points omitted because they are empty slogans.)
Meanwhile, Mexico continues to make billions on not only our bad trade deals but also relies heavily on the billions of dollars in remittances sent from illegal immigrants in the United States back to Mexico ($22 billion in 2013 alone).
First of all, making money off of trade deals is why we have trade deals. Mexicans wouldn’t trade with us if there wasn’t something in it for them.
Second, the $22 billion figure is a lie. If you read the source he links to, a Fox news item, the $22 billion figure is total remittances, not just remittances from illegal immigrants.
Mexico must pay for the wall and, until they do, the United States will, among other things: impound all remittance payments derived from illegal wages;
That’s a foolish and empty promise. If the U.S. government tried to stop remittances, people would just send illegally, creating yet another underground economic activity. We can’t even stop drug cartels from moving billions of dollars across the border every year.
America will only be great as long as America remains a nation of laws that lives according to the Constitution. No one is above the law. The following steps will return to the American people the safety of their laws, which politicians have stolen from them:
I’m pretty sure that paragraph doesn’t actually mean anything.
Triple the number of ICE officers. As the President of the ICE Officers’ Council explained in Congressional testimony: “Only approximately 5,000 officers and agents within ICE perform the lion’s share of ICE’s immigration mission…Compare that to the Los Angeles Police Department at approximately 10,000 officers.
Why in God’s name would we want more ICE officers? They’re one of the most awful groups of people you can name. Whether they’re turning back friendly tourists, keeping out musical styles they don’t understand, jailing people for years and deporting them for crimes they were never convicted of, letting cancer victims die in their custody, or kicking out women because they might have sex with American men, in a nation that prides itself on diversity, it would be hard to find less tolerant bunch of thugs that wasn’t being tracked by the DOJ Civil Rights office.
Nationwide e-verify. This simple measure will protect jobs for unemployed Americans.
So not only does Trump want to triple the number of ICE officers, he also wants to force businesses to do the job that ICE is supposed to be doing, adding even more paperwork and slowing the hiring process.
Defund sanctuary cities. Cut-off federal grants to any city which refuses to cooperate with federal law enforcement.
Again, if you think catching illegal immigrants is so damned important, do it yourself. Don’t force cities to spend their own money on enforcing laws they don’t want to enforce. Make all those ICE agents do their jobs.
Cooperate with local gang task forces. ICE officers should accompany local police departments conducting raids of violent street gangs like MS-13 and the 18th street gang, which have terrorized the country.
Now there’s a group that may be worse than ICE: Gang task forces. (Want to see a gang cop lie? Ask him how he knows someone is in a gang.)
All illegal aliens in gangs should be apprehended and deported.
And all children should have ponies.
Again, quoting Chris Crane: “ICE Officers and Agents are forced to apply the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Directive, not to children in schools, but to adult inmates in jails. If an illegal-alien inmate simply claims eligibility, ICE is forced to release the alien back into the community. This includes serious criminals who have committed felonies, who have assaulted officers, and who prey on children…”
I have no idea what he’s talking about, but I’m pretty sure it’s not true. It may be that ICE can’t detain these people on an immigration hold, but the states can always lock up criminals.
“…ICE should be working with any state or local drug or gang task force that asks for such assistance.”
Drug task forces. Even worse than gang task forces.
End birthright citizenship. This remains the biggest magnet for illegal immigration. By a 2:1 margin, voters say it’s the wrong policy, including Harry Reid who said “no sane country” would give automatic citizenship to the children of illegal immigrants.
Shorter Trump: Wahhh, we can’t deport the brown babies!
Increase prevailing wage for H-1Bs. We graduate two times more Americans with STEM degrees each year than find STEM jobs, yet as much as two-thirds of entry-level hiring for IT jobs is accomplished through the H-1B program. More than half of H-1B visas are issued for the program’s lowest allowable wage level, and more than eighty percent for its bottom two.
The H-1B program ties workers’ visa status to their employer, making it hard for them to change jobs. This reduces their bargaining power. If you change the H1-B program to allow them to become unemployed without losing their jobs, they’ll demand wages much closer to American workers. Of course, that might make employers less likely to sponsor them, so maybe just eliminate the sponsorship requirement and convert it to a general guest worker program.
Some of Trump’s proposals amount to little more than anti-immigrant bigotry. I know his defenders insist he’s only talking about illegal immigrants, but not in these sections. This is pretty much an appeal to group identity:
…Raising the prevailing wage paid to H-1Bs will force companies to give these coveted entry-level jobs to the existing domestic pool of unemployed native and immigrant workers in the U.S., instead of flying in cheaper workers from overseas. This will improve the number of black, Hispanic and female workers in Silicon Valley who have been passed over in favor of the H-1B program.
And this is even more explicit:
Requirement to hire American workers first. Too many visas, like the H-1B, have no such requirement. In the year 2015, with 92 million Americans outside the workforce and incomes collapsing, we need to companies to hire from the domestic pool of unemployed.
Immigration moderation. Before any new green cards are issued to foreign workers abroad, there will be a pause where employers will have to hire from the domestic pool of unemployed immigrant and native workers. This will help reverse women’s plummeting workplace participation rate, grow wages, and allow record immigration levels to subside to more moderate historical averages.
And then there’s petty shit like this:
Jobs program for inner city youth. The J-1 visa jobs program for foreign youth will be terminated and replaced with a resume bank for inner city youth provided to all corporate subscribers to the J-1 visa program.
Jesus. Trump thinks the reason inner city youths can’t get jobs is because their resumes aren’t getting enough exposure.
And then there’s the naked “save the children” appeal:
Refugee program for American children. Increase standards for the admission of refugees and asylum-seekers to crack down on abuses. Use the monies saved on expensive refugee programs to help place American children without parents in safer homes and communities, and to improve community safety in high crime neighborhoods in the United States.
Why not raise taxes on gambling to save the children? Or real estate development? Reality TV shows? Everything seems like a good idea when you cast the alternative as not saving the children.
Even if we ignore the wackier stuff, the failure in economic thinking here — common to most political rhetoric about economics — is that it’s all about Americans as workers, but not about Americans as consumers. Cheap labor means it costs less to produce the goods and service everyone consumes. The laborers get better jobs, we get more stuff. Everybody wins. That’s why pretty much every economic study indicates that immigration is a net advantage for our economy and for the world.
I would have written more about Trump’s immigration policy, but instead I’ll just suggest you read these great pieces by Megan McArdle, Nick Gillespie, and Robby Soave.
And finally, Peter Suderman takes on the mistake of thinking that Trump actually has policy positions:
In his 1987 book The Art of the Deal, for example, Trump wrote that, in conducting his real-estate business, he would draw up architectural plans designed to look far more expensive and thoughtfully designed than they were, or have construction equipment engage in meaningless busywork in order to impress investors with the illusion of activity.
With his half-baked immigration white paper, Trump is doing essentially the same thing, but for his presidential campaign: He’s attempting, through the use of a simple gimmick, to create the illusion of thoughtfully crafted, substantive policy detail.
Which is pretty much where I came in.